At Emirates, we believe air travel has a bright future, and we are working together with other industry stakeholders – governments, regulators and local communities – to find solutions and best practices for our long-term interests.

At present, the global aviation sector transports more than 3 billion passengers and 50 million tonnes of cargo each year, in the process supporting more than 57 million jobs and $2.2 trillion in economic activity. Growth will roar ahead with air travel expected to reach 7 billion passengers by 2034. We are as an industry, and an airline, gearing up for what the future holds.

Economic pillar

Civil aviation is a strategic pillar for Dubai’s economy. It contributes 27 per cent of Dubai’s GDP and supports more than 400,000 jobs. Aviation and its associated value chain sectors, such as tourism, are forecast to contribute $53.1bn to Dubai’s GDP in 2020, and support more than 754,500 Dubai-based jobs.

Looking beyond 2020, those numbers will develop further. Today, passengers are offered direct flight connections from Dubai to more than 149 cities with populations in excess of 1 million people, equivalent to 13 per cent of the world’s population. Economic opportunities are being made possible by efficient air transport links, accelerating the pace of Dubai’s economic growth and diversification.

At the airline, we have high passenger numbers combined with the pressures of limited real estate at the airport, coupled with a busy air traffic corridor. Plus, we have strong competition from other regional airports, and an economic mandate to develop air connectivity.

Growing our operations, and subsequently Dubai’s connectivity, will be vital in the lead-up to Expo 2020. The Dubai government and other industry stakeholders are tirelessly working on infrastructure enhancements, all paving the way for us to carry 70 million passengers by that time.

We have already started the groundwork at Al-Maktoum International airport. On completion, Emirates will move its operations there, freeing up tremendous capacity at Dubai International. The new airport will become a customised hub for Emirates.

Efficient skies

In the meantime, we are working on increasing the efficiency of our skies and the current state of Dubai International as we continue to see an uptick of passenger numbers.

We are determinedly working with other stakeholders to innovate, redesign and redeliver a passenger experience on the ground that eliminates as many stops as possible. In the future, we hope to see streamlined check-in, smart luggage tags when bags are dropped off, customised messaging directly on smart devices as passengers make their way to their departure gate and a biometric-controlled boarding process.

So what does this all mean? Digitisation is becoming the cornerstone of every industry, putting information and power into the hands of consumers. Passengers want to see the services and conveniences they get in other industries. They expect everything to be joined up when speaking to our call centre agents, or at the airport, in our lounges, or on our planes.

A better consumer experience based on customer insights is just the beginning. Think disruptive technologies such as robotics, the potential use of block chain technology for identity management, among other breakthrough technologies. Think big data, and intelligent algorithms that can give us real-time information on our passengers and every aspect of our operations.

The rules are changing. And we are already adapting our business model, in every element of what we do as an airline to break away from the archaic legacy systems of the industry to optimise our business potential.

Fundamentally, we will continue our undiluted focus on our core strategy, concentrating on our organic growth just as we have always done, connecting cities from all corners of the globe that make sense for our customers, while offering them an outstanding value proposition at every Emirates touchpoint as they discover the world.

Sir Tim Clark is president of Emirates airline